Non-Compete Agreements

Merrick Law Firm LLC represents employees who have signed or have been asked to sign so-called “restrictive covenants.” These covenants come in several forms and essentially place restrictions on employees’ conduct during and after their employment with a particular employer.

A covenant not to compete precludes an employee from working for a competitor for some period of time, usually one to three years after the employment relationship ends. Under a non-solicitation agreement the employee agrees not to solicit specified clients or customers of the employer for a set period of time. Anti-raiding provisions prohibit an employee from enticing his or her co-employees to leave the employer to join another company or form a competing business. Many employees are asked to sign nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements which address protecting the employers’ trade secrets and proprietary information.

We counsel employees both before and after restrictive covenants are signed. If they cannot be avoided altogether we advise our clients on how restrictive covenants can be modified to give the employer some level of protection while affording the employee the opportunity to earn a living in his or her chosen field once the employment relationship ends. We also develop strategies to allow employees who have signed restrictive covenants to depart from their employers to join a rival company or start their own business. If an acceptable resolution cannot be negotiated, we effectively represent employees who have been sued by their employers to enforce restrictive covenants.

The enforceability of restrictive covenants is widely misunderstood by many employees. Moreover, the law imposes certain obligations on all employees, including those who have not signed any restrictive covenants, such as the common law duty of loyalty. Given the complexity of the law in this area and the high stakes involved—including the ability to earn a living and the expense of litigation if an employee unwittingly violates a duty owed to the employer—we strongly advise our clients to seek counsel in this area as early as possible.

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